Gabrielle Union Details 'Hard Truth' of Surrogacy Journey: 'I Wanted the Experience of Being Pregnant'

The actress revealed in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with adenomyosis, a condition that led her to consider other pregnancy options

Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade attend Stance Spades At NBA All-Star 2020 at City Hall on February 15, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty

Gabrielle Union is getting candid about the "hard truth" behind her 2018 surrogacy journey in a new essay for Time magazine.

The actress, 48, who previously revealed her diagnosis with adenomyosis, wrote about having multiple miscarriages over the years, which led her to consider other pregnancy options.

Union recalled being told by her doctor Kelly Baek in 2016 that her best chance of having a healthy baby of her own would be through surrogacy. It was news she didn't want to hear.

Gabrielle Union attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Ian West/PA Images via Getty

"I was not ready to do that," she wrote in the piece. "I wanted the experience of being pregnant. To watch my body expand and shift to accommodate this miracle inside me."

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More than a year later, Union was prepared to take a drug called Lupron, which would give her a 30% chance of bringing a baby to term. It also meant "throwing your body into early menopause and you can break bones very easily," she wrote.

Ultimately, her husband Dwyane Wade changed her mind with one brief statement: "You've done enough."

Initially, Union wasn't pleased with Wade's response. But he persisted.

Gabrielle Union, dwayne wade
Rich Fury/Getty Images

"As much as we want this baby, I want you," she recalled him saying. "We've lost too much in our relationship for me to be okay with encouraging you to do one more thing to your body and your soul."

Union admittedly still had many fears about the process at the beginning of her surrogacy journey. After meeting the surrogate, however, many of those fears were wiped away — especially when she revealed herself to be a fan of Union's.

"This is such a trip. I have your book on hold at four different libraries," the actress recalled her surrogate, Natalie, telling her before they hugged. "So, I guess now I can get a copy, huh?" she added jokingly.

Gabrielle Union poses backstage for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on May 23, 2021

In March 2018, Natalie returned a positive pregnancy test. She showed off her baby bump to Union during a doctor's appointment at the end of her first trimester, but it was a difficult moment for the mom-to-be.

"This growing bump that everyone thought I wanted to see was now a visual manifestation of my failure," the star wrote. "I smiled, wanting to show I — we — were so happy and grateful. But part of me felt more worthless."

Union was overcome with emotion when she saw what was soon to be her daughter during an ultrasound. "It was suddenly incredibly real," she explained. "Dwyane took my hand, and there was so much happiness on his face, I lost it. My cry was a choke stopped up in my throat, tears streaming down."

"It was grief," she continued. "I'd had so many miscarriages ... looking at the screen, I understood how many potential babies I had lost. That's why I was crying."

Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union
Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union. Shareif Ziyadat/FilmMagic

Five months in, the couple announced to friends that they were expecting during a business trip in Beijing. Wade was thrilled and even revealed his plan to get their daughter's name — Kaavia James — tattooed on his shoulder that very night.

"Dwyane's confidence was something to behold and envy. He was so certain she was going to make it that we told our friends. After my first miscarriage, I had never ever told people when we were expecting. Even this felt dangerous. The words were out of my mouth to my friends and I thought, 'What the f— did I just do?'"

Kaavia James came a few weeks early, though it took 38 hours of labor before she was born. Doctors were forced to perform an emergency C-section after discovering the umbilical cord was tied around the baby's ankle.

Once again, Union was overcome with emotion. "She was loved even as an idea. My body seized in a full release of every emotion," she wrote.

Gabrielle Union, dwayne wade
Gab Union, Dwyane Wade.

"Relief, anxiety, terror, joy, resentment, disbelief, gratitude … and also, disconnection. I had hoped that the second I saw her, there would be a moment of locking in. I looked over at Natalie and her husband. There was a stillness to them. I looked at Kaavia James on the table, and then back at them. It took all of us to create her, so I wanted to share this time with them."

At the end of the piece, Union said she felt it was important to share her story.

"If I am telling the fullness of our stories, of our three lives together, I must tell the truths I live with," she concluded. "And I have learned that you can be honest and loving at the same time."

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